Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Ivy Bridge in Devon
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour
  • image width 200mm,
  • image length 325mm
laid paper
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne / delt 1775”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Ivy Bridge in the County of Devon / drawn on the spot / [erased] / by / Francis Towne”
Object Type

A View of Ivy Bridge
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Information at Sotheby's, London


Untraced until in the collection of Professor Reginald Alton (1919–2003) of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, from 1955 or earlier. Alton sold it at Sotheby’s on 19 March 1970, lot 139, for £1,400, where it was bought by John Mitchell & Son. It was sold at Sotheby’s on 13 November 1980, lot 35, for £4,000, and again at Sotheby’s on 10 March 1988, lot 85, for £13,000, whereafter it is untraced.

Associated People & Organisations

Professor Reginald Alton (1919 - 2003)
John Mitchell & Son, London
Sotheby's, London
Exhibition History
[?] Early English Water-Colours and Drawings, Squire Gallery, 1933
[?] Loan Exhibition of English Watercolour Drawings in Aid of the Friends of the Courtauld Institute, John Mitchell & Son, London, and Drapers Hall, London, 1970, no. 58
Luke Herrmann, 'Review: Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting', The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, No. 720, Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd: London, 1963, p. 133
Luke Herrmann, British Landscape Painting of the 18th Century, Faber: London, 1973, p. 75


Ivy Bridge was a small village just below the southern tip of Dartmoor,1 named after its ivy-clad bridge crossing the Erme river. Towne’s large and highly coloured view suggest that by the mid-1770s he was not only gaining work on aristocratic estates but making business from Devon’s picturesque spots. Ivy Bridge’s picturesque qualities were well appreciated in the 1770s and 1780s,2 and Towne’s version dated 1784 also survives (FT412). Either this or the 1784 work was the 1933 Squire exhibit, called “exceedingly beautiful” by a reviewer.3

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Donn 1965, pl.10a.
  2. 2 Examples by John Inigo Richards, Ivy Bridge, Devon, 1768 (Bridgeman Art Library), after Paul Sandby, Ivy Bridge, Devon, 1781 (Witt Library), and William Payne, Ivy Bridge, ca. 1780 (British Library).
  3. 3 The Times, 7 June 1933.

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.